Post C: Smoking and masculinity- Interview & Analysis

In order to gain a better understanding of consumer attitudes and experiences regarding tobacco usage in central Java, an in-depth interview was undertaken during the UTS Indonesia Global Studios. The interviewee’s response will be compared and contrasted against several findings among secondary sources. The interviewee, Mul, is a 26-year-old Indonesian, male, hotel butler, unmarried and a frequent smoker.

Tobacco usage in Indonesia is linked with old traditions as cigarettes are often introduced to adolescent boys during the traditional religious ritual of circumcision (Prabandari & Dewi, 2016). It is seen as an initiation or pathway to manhood and smoking supposedly relieves the pain. Likewise, Mul’s experiences coincide with this as he recollects the start of his smoking habit at around the age of 12-13 when his father gave him a pack. I was not able to ask further details if he practiced old traditions for modesty reasons.

“During religious festivals, wedding ceremonies, birth and grieving ceremonies… people come together and spend the night praying and sharing feelings. People will snack and drink tea or coffee and men will pass around cigarettes. In addition, cigarettes were often used as a ‘gift’ to friends, visitors, or guests in traditional or religious ceremonies. The informants shared the same social norms as the community as a whole; when you are offered a gift, it is impolite to refuse it.” (Prabandari & Dewi, 2016)

Smoking in Indonesia’s modern culture is also prevalent as Mul admits to consuming about 1 pack a day, more or less depending on how he feels. He smokes when on break and when he is socialising with friends. When asked why he chooses to smoke despite the knowledge of the health implications the response was because everyone else smokes. He would quit when it actually starts affecting him or will stop smoking if his girlfriend asks him to stop. He believes that smoking is cool and helps him attract women (he is still single). It is “brave to smoke” with the knowledge that it will do harm. The pressures of modern life play a role why one chooses to smoke; peer pressure, dating and the goal to achieve of masculinity.

Mul’s attitude towards smoking is assumed to be similar to others with the same demographic and satisfies findings from Morrow & Barraclough (2010) on gender and tobacco culture in Indonesia. Furthermore, Mul is situated in a highly collectivist society which views smoking as a gender norm; these conditions allow the tobacco industry to thrive (Schewe 2017). According to Hofstede’s cultural dimension of individualism, there’s a high preference from individuals in a collectivist country to conform to the ideals of the society and the groups which they belong with. The use of tobacco in the construction of masculinity highlights the need for more gender-specific interventions to undermine the wicked problem of tobacco in Indonesia.

Hofstede Insights country comparison, 2019.


Hofstede insights, 2019, Country Comparison-Australia & Indonesia, Hofstede Insights, viewed 20 December 2019, <,indonesia/>.

Morrow, M. & Barraclough, S., 2010, ‘Gender equity and tobacco control: bringing masculinity into focus’, school of public health, vol. 17, no.1, pp. 21-28.

Prabandari, Y.S. & Dewi, A.,2016, ‘How do Indonesian youth perceive cigarette advertising? A cross-sectional study among Indonesian high school students’, Journal of global health action, vol. 9, no. 1.

Schewe, E., 2017, Why do so many Indonesian men smoke?, JSTOR Daily, viewed 20 December 2019, <>.

(Post D) The Correlation between Socio-geography & Indonesia’s Tobacco Epidemic.

In many scholarly literature, the findings and statistics on tobacco related topics are homogenised to a national level. ‘Our World in Data’ reported that Indonesia had one of the biggest gap between the amount of female and male smokers and one of the highest smoking rates worldwide; 40% of the population smoke and out of the smokers, 60% were men but only 4% were women (Aditama 2002, pp. 56). However, Indonesia is comprised of many islands and regions: culture and norms can be unique and vary therefore requires a further breakdown in order to tackle the tobacco problem.

Ng, Weinehall & Ohman (2007) suggests that the use of tobacco in the construction of masculinity explains the low statistics of female tobacco users versus high statistics of male users. This claim is further backed by the World Health Organisation. In conjunction with the nations gender norms involved with smoking, we must consider factors of socio-geography as another research conducted suggests regions of poverty have a higher tobacco usage rate in Indonesia (Kusumawardani, Tarigan and Schlotheuber 2018).

Indonesian provinces with highest absolute poverty (Indonesia Investments, 2016)
Mapping of Tobacco regions in Indonesia

So why is Java extremely prone to high levels of Tobacco usage?

Firstly, the main tobacco plantation areas are situated in Deli (North Sumatra), Surakarta, Temanggung, Wonosobo and Kendal in Central Java, Yogyakarta and Besuki, Bojonegoro, Madura and Jember in East Java (International Labour Organisation 2019). People who are surrounded by tobacco and working for the industry are more likely to use it due to easy and cheap accessibility. The tobacco industry provides their source of income thus they favour it and are more likely to use it.

Secondly, there are apparent differences in education levels, opportunities and wealth distribution in Indonesia. The odds of smoking were “greater among adolescents with higher education as compared to those with lower education and adolescents in the poorest quintile had more than twice the odds of smoking compared with adolescents from the richest quintile” (Kusumawardani, Tarigan and Schlotheuber 2018) . Furthermore, high poverty rates in East, central and west Java reveals that children and adolescents are forced to work in these plantations rather than seeking further education.  

Javanese culture is considered more conservative thus gender roles and stereotypes may be more apparent. Males feel the need to smoke to fulfil gender roles.


Aditama, T.Y. 2002, ‘Smoking problem in Indonesia’, Medical Journal of Indonesia, vol. 11, no. 1; pp. 56-65. <>.

Ng, N., Weinehall, L. & Ohman, A. 2007, ‘If I don’t smoke, I’m not a real man’- Indonesian teenage boys’ view about smoking’, Health Education Research, vol. 22, no. 6, pp. 794-804. <>.

Kusumawardani, N., Tarigan, I., & Schlotheuber, A. 2018, ‘Socio-economic, demographic and geographic correlates of cigarette smoking among Indonesian adolescents’, Global Health Action, vol. 11, no.1. <>.

International labour organisation 2019, Child labour in plantation, viewed 27 Nov 2019. <–en/index.htm>.


Indonesia Investments 2016, Urban and Rural Poverty in Indonesia, viewed 27 Nov 2019. <>.

(Post B) – A glimpse into the workings of the ‘She Conquers’ AIDS Campaign in South Africa.

‘She Conquers’ is a not-for-profit, multichannel, national campaign in South Africa. The Campaign is run by the South African National Aids Council, partnered with UNAIDS to tackle the AIDS epidemic. It is a 3-year long campaign running from 2016 to current.

“The campaign will leverage of the DREAMS project funded by PEPFAR in 5 districts in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, projects funded by the Global Fund in 10 districts as well as funding by KfW (Development Bank) for a project in Buffalo City”-(She Conquers Campaign Handbook 2016).

The problem:

One third of South African teenage girls become pregnant and 10% will have acquired HIV. Young women’s acquisition results from unprotected sex with a usually older man who has HIV. This problem is driven by the low status and power of girls and women, social norms related to masculinity can also explain the high statistics of rape. The low levels of protected sex are fuelled by alcohol consumption and poverty. Other factors include insufficient awareness of risks, lack of access to appropriate contraception and health care. All this contributes to the exacerbated high school drop-out rates and therefore youth unemployment.

Campaign Target Market:

The campaign targets young women and adolescent girls and boys; particularly vulnerable groups such as orphans, young sex workers and youth living in regions of poverty where there is a lack of education on sexual health and limited access to health clinics. This is considered a successful market for social and behavioural change as habits and healthy practices start from a young age.

“UNAIDS estimates that there are 1975 new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women aged 15-24 years each week. In addition, there are 70 000 babies born to adolescent girls and young women aged 18 years and younger each year – many of them unplanned. South Africa needs an evidence-based, strategic response to lift the burden of ill-health and disadvantage from the shoulders of young women and release our communities from the web of health and social problems”(She Conquers Campaign Handbook 2016, p. 2).

Campaign Objectives

‘She Conqueurs’ Campaign Objectives (She Conquers handbook 2016).


‘She Conquers’ plan of action flow chart (She Conquers handbook 2016).

Critique on Methodology:

What do we learn from this campaign?

Multichannel delivery is essential to increase exposure however, it appears that ‘word-of-mouth’ (WOM) can change attitudes and behaviour more effectively as it is highly engaging, persuasive and pervasive (Hoyer, Macinnis, Pieters, Chan & Northey 2018, pp.338). Hearing from friends and family, members of the same support group makes information sincere and memorable. In countries where citizens are sceptic of their government due to corruption etc., it is better to communicate through ‘WOM’. In Australia, for example, advertisements always have the ‘issued by Australian Government Department of –’line as Australian’s view this as a credible source. In South Africa and Indonesia, this may not be as effective.

Fear factor appears to stimulate behavioural change, especially in the public health sector, educating people about the risks and consequences can positively influence peoples’ decision making ability (Fairchild, A., Bayer, R., Green, S., Colgrove, J., Kilgore, E., Sweeney, M. & Varma, J. 2018). People are able to make better decisions when they are well informed.

In addition, from the She Conquers Intervention, it is apparent that the success of the campaign was due to the target of young people. The development of habits, attitudes and values are malleable at a young age and the schooling environment plays a vital role (Halstead & Taylor 2000).

Furthermore, increasing awareness and exposure discussed above, the level of accessibility plays a vital role in change. The She Conquers Campaign set up affordable youth friendly, check-up clinics in low socio-economic regions to increase accessibility. On the flip-side, tobacco in Indonesia is cheap, readily available for anyone to purchase and the industry is unregulated thus authorities should look into decreasing accessibility whether it be adding tax to enforcing the age limit of purchasing (WHO FCTC guideline, 2013).

She Conquers Campaign is considered successful as they reached campaign objectives to decrease new HIV infections in girls and young women, decrease unplanned teenage pregnancies, increase retention of adolescent girls and young women in school, decrease sexual violence and increase economic opportunities for young people. The 3-year long campaign contributed to the improved statistics recorded on the UNAIDS website.

Reference list:

Fairchild, A., Bayer, R., Green, S., Colgrove, J., Kilgore, E., Sweeney, M. & Varma, J. 2018, ‘The two faces of fear: A history of Hard-hitting Public Health Campaigns against tobacco and AIDS.’, American Journal of Public Health, no.9; pp. 1180-1186. <>

Halstead, J.M & Taylor, M.J. 2000, ‘The development of values, attitudes and personal qualities’, National Foundation of Educational Research, pp. 1-40. <>

Hoyer, W.D., Macinnis, D., Pieters, R., Chan, E. & Northey, G., 2018, ‘The pervasive and persuasive influence of word of mouth’, Consumer Behaviour, 1st edn, Cengage Learning, Australia.

National Aids Council 2017, She Conquers National Campaign Document, viewed 20 Nov 2019,<>

UNAIDS 2019, South Africa overview, viewed 19 Nov 2019,<>.

World Health Organisation 2013, Guidelines for Implementation of of the WHO TCTC, WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, viewed 19 Nov 2019,<>


National Aids Council 2016, She Conquers logo, viewed 20 Nov 2019, <>.

National Aids Council 2017, She Conquers Campaign flow chart, Campaign handbook, viewed 20 Nov 2019, <>.